Thursday, 15 September 2016


We have always suspected that birds from our flyway population can make it as far south as Spain. Yesterday, for the first time, we received confirmation, when Vitor Xose Cabaleiro Barroso from the Andurina ringing group, reported that he had photographed 6ARR, along with its unringed mate and five juveniles!!
Vitor located the birds at Combarro, near Pontevedra, which is in Galicia in NW Spain (just above Portugal). He reports that in Galicia dark-bellied brent is a scarce winter bird, regular and irruptive, whilst pale-bellied brent is a rare bird, irruptive sometimes and mainly in autumn, with some wintering birds. His observation is only the eleventh September record.
6ARR was ringed at Erin's Isle GAA pitch in Finglas, Dublin on 06 March 2013, and had previously been observed in Kerry, Galway, Sligo and  Strangford Lough as well as Dublin.


Sunday, 11 September 2016


Despite the gale-force winds today, managed to get out to Strangford Lough, and spotted the first GPS collared bird (see earlier blog items) of the season, 27ON (Orange/Black(Noir)), at the Maltings. All the birds were struggling to stand up, so I was unable to observe much on its behaviour. Interestingly, also present was the leucistic brent which had been observed last winter, which has a pale back - looks a real oddity!
It was nice to note today that five out of the seventeen ringed birds read had broods of between three and five young trailing after them!!
A couple more reports have come in of first sightings - one of four birds at Killough Harbour yesterday, from Owen Hegarty, and another of seven today at the Gann Estuary, Pembrokeshire from Derek Grimwood.

Friday, 9 September 2016


A couple more emails from different places appear to confirm hopeful signs...
Robin Vage, reporting from Belfast Lough at Kinnegar, at lunch-time today had 32 brent, equally split between adults and juveniles.
Broods were: 2 x 1 juv., 1 x 2 juvs., 4 x 3 juvs.
Then, in came the first record from Dublin, observed at dusk last night, of a single family which included 1 juvenile. This record, including supportive photos, came from Twilight Plunkett.
I was out myself today at the north end of Strangford Lough. The birds are already becoming more dispersed, with significant numbers encountered further south, and rings read, at Pig Island and the Gasworks. Whilst the big flocks out in the middle seldom hold large numbers of juveniles, the latter were very much in evidence around the margins, and particularly adjacent to stream outfalls, with broods of up to 5 juveniles being seen.